WELLINGTON, FL—Nov. 27, 2017---The legacy of polo great Carlos Gracida continued on a perfect day for polo at Grand Champions Polo Club.
The fourth annual Carlos Gracida Legends of Polo honored the Hall of Famer and former 10-goaler who died tragically in February, 2014 at age 53.
It was youth vs. experience as The Future Legends (Will Jacobs, Santos Bollini, Juancito Bollini, Mariano Gracida) defeated Team Legends (Charlie Armstrong, Stewart Armstrong, Marc Ganzi, Juan Bollini), 6-5.
Juancito Bollini, 21, a senior at Florida Atlantic University, scored the winning goal with 37 seconds left in the game.
Mariano Gracida, 24, the youngest son of Carlos Gracida, was named Most Valuable Player for the second year in a row. His older brother Carlitos Gracida, 26, threw in the first ball of the game.
"This is nice, I always like this day," Mariano Gracida said. "The Ganzis always organize a nice game for everyone to have fun and just to remember my father and do what he loved the most and that's play polo. Sometimes I do feel like he's out there especially like days today. It's a special day, I try to think of him as much as I can because it's a nice day to enjoy in his name.
"The team was fun," Gracida said. "It's something that never happens in polo because usually all the ages are mixed. So to play with all young guys and some of my friends against the older guys it was fun."
It was more of a friendly match of good polo and a time for family and friends to share memories and stories about one of the greatest men ever to play the game.
Carlos Gracida was rated at 10 goals for fifteen years. He won nine U.S. Opens including seven with his brother Memo; five Argentine Opens; a record ten British Opens and seven World Cups.
For family and friends, it's always an emotional time but agree it is one of the greatest ways to pay tribute to a legend.
"It's a special day to honor Carlos," said Grant Ganzi of Team USA. "It's really sad what happened to Carlos and we all miss him every day in the sport. It just brings back memories.
"I remember I was young but I always would sit with him at my Dad's games. His sons have done a great job of carrying on his legacy. They are on a really good path and like brothers to me. I think Carlos would be so proud of them today."
In the featured game, Team USA remained undefeated with a 6-0 record after defeating Brazil 9-7 in the sixth annual USPA International Cup.
The team of Grant Ganzi, 2, Carlitos Gracida, 4, Julio Arellano, 8, and Mike Azzaro, 6, led from start-to-finish to defeat the Brazilian team of Flavio Castilho, 5, Gustavo Toledo, 5, Guilherme Lins, 5, and Calao Mello, 4.
Julio Arellano, rated at 8 goals and member of three winning lineups for Team USA including 2016 against Uruguay and 2015 against South Africa, was Most Valuable Player. It was the third consecutive honor for the Cardinal Newman and Florida Atlantic University alum. Arellano scored a game-high five goals.
The doubleheader is a holiday tradition that highlights the biggest week of the fall polo season at Grand Champions Polo Club.
The tournament awards for both games were designed by Brazilian-born renowned artist Romero Britto.
Proceeds from the doubleheader and auction benefitted The Museum of Polo and Hall of Fame, a non-profit educational organization, dedicated to fostering an appreciation of the development, history and tradition of the sport of polo by collecting, preserving, exhibiting and interpreting its collections as well as honoring those who have made outstanding contributions to the sport.
During fall, winter and spring seasons, Grand Champions Polo Club, the nation's largest club with 11 well-manicured fields, hosts polo tournaments ranging from six to 26-goal in addition to special events.
Grand Champions Polo Cup attracted a record 72 teams during its 2017 winter season that featured the $100,000 World Cup, $50,000 National 12-Goal, 20-Goal Sterling Cup and 20-Goal Molina Cup, and another 18 teams during the spring season.
Grand Champions Polo Club caters to men, women and youth polo players at all levels. Its' expert staff can customize a complete playing experience including horses, pros and certified umpires in addition to lessons and practice sessions as part of its' Polo On Demand program, the only polo club in the U.S. to offer the unique program.
The Polo School is dedicated to teaching polo to all ages, particularly grass roots youth. Its' mission is to provide opportunities to learn and play polo in a safe environment. The Polo School operates in Wellington January through June and September through November.